A novel thermophilic, methane-producing archaeon was isolated from a deep-sea hydrothermal vent chimney at the Iheya Ridge, in the Okinawa Trough, Japan. The cells were highly motile, irregular cocci, with a polar bundle of flagella. Growth was observed between 40 and 75 degrees C (optimum 60-65 degrees C; 30 min doubling time) and between pH 4.5 and 8.5 (optimum pH 6.7). The isolate was a strictly anaerobic autotroph capable of using hydrogen and carbon dioxide as sole sources of energy and carbon. Formate can serve as an alternative energy source. The G+C content of the genomic DNA was 33.5 mol%. Phylogenetic analysis based on 16S rDNA sequences and DNA-DNA hybridization analysis indicated that the isolate was closely related to members of the genera Methanococcus and Methanothermococcus. This isolate, however, could be differentiated from the previously described species of these genera on the basis of its physiological and molecular properties. The name Methanothermococcus okinawensis sp. nov is proposed, with the type strain IH1T (=JCM 11175T=DSM 14208T).


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